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Trade Board drops Auto Channel - Car dealer disqualified for import recertification

Published:Sunday | November 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Victor Cummings, (left) CEO of the Trade Board Limited. - File
Lynvalle Hamilton, managing director of Auto Channel Limited and president of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers' Association. - File
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Tameka Gordon, Business Reporter

Auto Channel Limited has become the first casualty of the revised Motor Vehicle Import Policy (MVIP), which took effect in April this year.

The Trade Board Limited has opted not to recertify the car dealership run by the chief spokesman for the traders of pre-owned vehicles and has warned other operators to either fall in line with the new import policy or suffer the same fate.

The Trade Board is the oversight agency for the policy and the issuer of import licences.

Auto Channel, whose principal is Lynvalle Hamilton, the current president of the Jamaica Used Car Dealers' Association, was denied recertification due to breaches of Section 9.1 of the import policy, Trade Board CEO Victor Cummings confirmed to Sunday Business.

He said, however, that Auto Channel would regain its licence once it becomes compliant.

"My job is to administer the policy and not to be selective, so no special treatment. Everybody has to comply," said the Trade Board CEO.

Section 9.1 of the MVIP deals with background checks to ensure that dealers pass fit and proper tests, and comply with consumer protection and trade laws.

Cummings did not specify the precise breach by Auto Channel.

Hamilton, whose dealership operates from Holborn Road in New Kingston, declined to comment, but said he would soon be releasing a press statement on his position.

Several other dealers have been given "special warnings" to shape up, said Cummings. These warnings were to dealers against whom complaints have been filed with the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC).

Details on the number of complaints before it were not forthcoming from the FTC up to press time.

For the dealers whose licences are close to being renewed but have complaints against them, "we submit to them a warning that since they are close, they need to ensure that they satisfy Section 9.1," said the Trade Board head.

The dealers are contending that other companies have not been recertified, but Cummings refuted the claim.

"Only one has not been recertified," he said, referring to Auto Channel. "We have sent warnings to the others."

"There are some who have not complied, but they are now in the process of complying, and we are recertifying them," he added.

"Everybody was warned, but some of them, where there are complaints, either to the FTC or CAC, were given a special warning," said Cummings.

He declined to state the number of dealers on the special list.

Used car dealers must be certified by the Trade Board annually to import cars and must also obtain a license for each vehicle the import.

Each dealer's import licence comes up for renewal based on their anniversary date.

"What we are doing right now is we are going through Section 9.1 as their recertification is due. Several of them that we know are in violation of Section 9.1. If their certification is not due, we have placed them on notice that they need to become compliant," Cummings said.

Dealers denied recertification may appeal to the portfolio minister in charge of commerce for reinstatement of their licence after "a minimum waiting period", which the MVIP does not define.

Excerpt of Section 9.1 of the Motor Vehicle Import Policy:

All duly registered companies
desirous of participating in the motor vehicle trade as dealers or
brokers will be required to undergo background checks so as to ensure
that they are fit and proper to conduct
business.

Applications for recertification will be
subject to checks to determine the entity's level of compliance with the
Consumer Protection Act, the Fair Competition Act, and the Sale of
Goods Act.

Applicants found to be in breach of the
Consumer Protection Act, the Fair Competition Act, or the Sale Of Goods
Act via misrepresentation (whereby vehicles sold to consumers are valued
for less than the current market value paid by the consumer because of
model year discrepancy or any other variation between the actual vehicle
and the description given, that impacts the price of the vehicle in the
way stated above) will not be automatically recertified by the Trade
Board Limited.

The Trade Board Limited will only
consider recertification of such entities after they have served a
minimum waiting period, to be decided by the Minister, along with
payment of the certification fee for the stipulated waiting
period.

background checks to ensure that
dealers pass fit and proper tests and comply with consumer protection
and trade laws.

Cummings did not specify the precise
breach by Auto Channel.

Hamilton, whose dealership
operates from Holborn Road in New Kingston, declined to comment but said
he would soon be releasing a press statement on his
position.

Several other dealers have been given
"special warnings" to shape up, said Cummings. These warnings were to
dealers against whom complaints have been filed with the Fair Trading
Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Affairs Commission
(CAC).

Details on the number of complaints before it
were not forthcoming from the FTC up to press
time.

For the dealers whose licences are close to
being renewed but have complaints against them, "we submit to them a
warning that since they are close, they need to ensure that they satisfy
Section 9.1," said the Trade Board head.

The dealers
are contending that other companies have not been recertified, but
Cummings refuted the claim.

"Only one has not been
recertified," he said, referring to Auto Channel. "We have sent warnings
to the others."

"There are some who have not
complied, but they are now in the process of complying, and we are
recertifying them," he added.

"Everybody was warned,
but some of them, where there are complaints, either to the FTC or CAC,
were given a special warning," said Cummings.

He
declined to state the number of dealers on the special
list.

Used car dealers must be certified by the Trade
Board annually to import cars and must also obtain a licence for each
vehicle the import.

Each dealer's import licence comes
up for renewal based on their anniversary date.

"What
we are doing right now is we are going through Section 9.1 as their
recertification is due. Several of them that we know are in violation of
Section 9.1. If their certification is not due, we have placed them on
notice that they need to become compliant," Cummings
said.

Dealers denied recertification may appeal to the
portfolio minister in charge of commerce for reinstatement of their
licence after "a minimum waiting period", which the MVIP does not
define.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com